Tag: Public Relations


4 minutes with: Sean Pickwell, Director – Waterfront

A celebrity partnership could  help your brand to drive fast awareness, engagement and fan love;  and not to mention media interest. The right famous face paired with the right brand can sometimes be a match made in heaven, but finding that perfect fit might not be as easy as you think.  

We spent 4 minutes with Sean Pickwell, Managing Director of Australia’s number one international celebrity sourcing agency, Waterfront to get some expert advice on celebrity partnerships.

In your opinion, what are some of the most successful brand and celebrity partnerships of the last 12 months, and why?

There are so many… but a few favourites over the last year for me are:

Mila Kunis – Jim Beam – I love it because it’s unexpected and cuts through. She makes me want to start drinking Beam. Likewise, Anna Kendrick’s anti-ads for Newcastle Ale are so clever. Using female celebrities for male-skewed drinks cuts though, but the execution like in these two cases needs to be great.

Globally I love the use of celebrities in the Snickers campaigns from Betty White to Mr Bean, and even our own Ray Meagher (Alf from Home and Away).

Jacobs Creek does a great job with their tennis stars and the amount of great content they develop – first was Andre Agassi then Novak Djokovic this year.

Some good Aussie celebrity campaigns – Barry Hall/Kleenex – nice connection to the soft side he showed on I’m A Celebrity, Julia Morris and Westinghouse – not an obvious fit, but the execution is great, and she is so loved, and self-deprecating that it makes the brand shine.

While they do cancel themselves out a bit, both Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver’s ongoing campaigns for Coles/Woolies, are strong, clear branding efforts. Both have outstanding brand values that each of the supermarkets desperately wants, and both speak to middle Australia. And to some degree they are both working.

What are the top 3 things a brand should know before starting the search for a celebrity ambassador?

The key things are what you are trying to achieve with the celebrity partnership, what are the brand values you want them to represent, and what do you need them to do. Sounds fairly straightforward but it is amazing how often these basics get skipped.

Understanding your brand is really important, and what you want to say in the market. Celebrities and the message they convey vary so much.

Also, you need to know that you will be dealing with someone (and their team) who has opinions, and will often have input – they aren’t machines. So it can be a hot kitchen…and you need to understand it can be a wild ride. But that’s why we use celebrities – to harness that personality and power for your brand. But it’s not always easy.

What should a brand look for when searching for a celebrity?

Fit is the key – their brand values and yours – making sure they are aligned.

Although often the celebrities brand values may be where you want your brand to end up, rather than where it is now. In many cases, the reason you might look to a particular celebrity is where the celebrity can take your brand.

Ideally you want someone who you can work with, and who wants to work with you. This is not always easy to know upfront, but there are ways to see if you will be compatible.

What are the most important rules of engagement when working with a celebrity?

Be upfront in the negotiating about what you are trying to do, and what you want from them – specifically.

Try and build a strong relationship with them and the team, so when you do maybe need something extra, it won’t be a problem. And they will want to go the extra mile for you.

Don’t skimp on extra things like accommodation, transport, meals, etc. just to save a few bucks. If they feel you are being cheap, it can rub off on their attitude.

Don’t try and sneak things in once the deal is done. One company we know added extra category exclusions into the contract right at the last minute. Got everyone off side.

What are the most common things a brand can forget when working with a celebrity?

It’s not so much what you might forget; it’s more know what to remember. That’s not just being tricky with words, more to make the point that when you do something everyday, you get good at it, and you know what to look for in each situation. It’s really a great argument to use a specialist to help secure your celebrity. We know who to talk to, how much you should be paying, what you need to include and remember, and how to make it as smooth as possible.

Sean Pickwell(lowres)

6 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Creativity is often viewed as a gift. You’ve either got the magic or you don’t.

Some people naturally seem more predisposed to creativity. However at FORWARD we believe that everyone has potential. By introducing some simple habits we can all bring more creativity into our lives and workspace.

Creativity isn’t just about coming up with big ideas sometimes it’s the small ideas. It isn’t all about visual images and witty copy writing. Creativity is connecting dots, identifying purposeful solutions, original thinking, and ultimately turning your imagination into a reality.

As communications professionals being creative is our livelihood. It’s an important part of what we do. The ability to harness our creativity and direct it appropriately is what helps us achieve better outcomes and get results for our clients.

Knowing how to tap into your creativity is something that you can learn and develop.  Just as you can learn techniques to improve your organisational skills, you can apply knowledge and practice to boost your creativity.

If you are looking for ways to be more creative in the workplace give some thought to how you can live a more creative life.

Changing your routine outside of work is equally as important as reconsidering how you approach things professionally.

Embracing your creativity isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. It’s an embodiment, a way of living.

Here are 6 practical tips to kick-start your creative journey.

 

IN WORK

1. Play with your imagination

The purpose of this exercise is to warm up your brain before you need to think creatively.

There are lots of techniques you can use to relax your mind. Here is one we do at FORWARD before we start brainstorming.

Based on Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play where he cites Bob McKim’s ‘30 Circles Test’. Give it a go it’s a fun place to start.

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  • Create a template, like the above with 30 circles on a piece of A3 paper
  • The challenge is to fill in as many circles as possible with different pictures/doodles/ideas
  • And all within one minute

circles

Source: https://victorianginger.wordpress.com/class-work/

  • Try to explore
  • Try not to self-edit
  • Try to be forgiving
  • Try not to be self critical

Tip: Limber up your mind and prepare it for action

 

2. Get into character

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes (and by someone we mean your audience).

Whenever we are tackling particularly difficult briefs and preparing for a brainstorm we always like to introduce a bit of role-play.

Each of us will get into character and it’s just as it sounds. Bring a prop, take on a new persona and even change your environment.

How do we want to make the end-user feel?

We take ourselves on that physical journey, and it is all fodder for our imaginations.

Getting into character can be an effective way to develop new ideas and solutions.

Tip: Think about your problem from a different perspective

set your imagination free, pile of documents flying away

3. Lose your fear of being wrong

It can be challenging to admit that you don’t have the answers to everything.

However, we can learn a lot about how a creative approaches life. For one they often don’t allow themselves to be restricted by the status quo.

Of course it’s important to protect your ‘personal brand’ and provide your colleagues with insightful, thoughtful thinking and learnings.

However, if you are constantly afraid of failure and not willing to share your ideas, it can be hard to free your mind and allow it to go into a lucid state where creativity often hatches.

Tip: Don’t be so serious. When you say something a bit silly enjoy it – fun and silliness is integral to the creative process

 

IN LIFE

4. Alone time

To quote Picasso: “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”

It’s crucial that you allocate time to spend time with yourself. So you can hear your thoughts and tune into your inner voice.

Alone time is often where the ideas form. Shut out the noise and dedicate time to recharge and reboot.

Quietness is where we get to know ourselves and can tap into our creativity.

Whether it’s going for a walk, heading to the gym or finding a space in your house, think about a place you can go physically and then mentally to unwind, reflect and create.

Tip: Overcome any concerns you may have of being alone, it’s the key to unlocking your creative potential

 

5. Do things that feed your soul

You’ve probably heard it time and time again, do what you love and do it often.

Write a list of the top 2-3 things which most inspire you. Do you enjoy watching vintage movies or listening to live music?

Now ask yourself how many times you have dedicated time to doing any of those things in the past week or month. Not as many times as you’d have hoped, right?

To unlock your creativity you need to be connected with yourself and open to new thinking and ideas. So its important to keep inspired and also push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Prioritise doing the things that make you happy and also try to do something new, every week if you can. It can be as easy as choosing a new restaurant or trying to cook a new recipe at home. Variety is all fuel for our minds.

Tip: Make time to renew your sources of inspiration

 

6. Capture your ideas whenever they happen

Creative thinking can take place anywhere and often when you least expect it. Many people have their best ideas when they first wake up in the morning so be sure to jot them down.

Once you get into a good habit of acknowledging your thinking you’ll find yourself coming up with more and more solutions and different ways to do things.

If you align more with the old school, treat yourself to a special notebook (personal favourite is Moleskin) and keep it close to you at all times. Or download an app like Evernote onto your mobile and work devices, we love using it here at FORWARD. You can also record your ideas on audio notes on your phone.

Tip: Document your thinking but choose a method which suits your personality and lifestyle

 

Final word

Introducing creativity into your life, or trying to be more creative doesn’t need to be onerous. Your personal and work personas are linked, so focus on boosting your creativity in both worlds. However to really harness your creativity it often means going a bit deeper, which can be scary. So remember fortune rewards the brave.

Think Different

The Future of PR: 3 Major Insights from the PRIA’s Vivid Ideas Session

Today, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) held an event as part of the Vivid Sydney called Creativity, Content and the Future of PR. Hosted by industry virtuoso Amanda Little, the program featured four participants:

  • Adam Good – Director of Digital Media & Content at Telstra
  • Glen Cassidy – Founding Partner at Cake Wines
  • Shane Currey – Director – Design Thinking | Visualisation | Storytelling – Deloitte Australia
  • Lex Deasley – Creative & Strategy Director at Hausmann Communications

The event was a complete sell-out indicating just how important the topic of industry transformation is for comms professionals today. The future role of PR in integrated story telling, consumer engagement and brand building were hot topics.

There were three major “a-ha moments” at the session that I believe are worth sharing.

PRIA_VividIdeas-40

  1. Customer experience should be at the heart of big ideas

According to keynote speaker, Adam Good from Telstra, the best way to influence people is to focus on the customer experience, ensuring a company’s products and services deliver on brand promises.

Adam also talked about the important role PR plays at Telstra, which includes focusing multiple disciplines, combing creativity / content to create action-centric communication.

In the development of any Telstra comms campaign, big idea or consumer engagement piece, Adam relayed three important factors that Telstra considers:

Mechanics – What is at the heart of the idea or proposition? Are you nourishing the idea and proposition around the experience? How do you tell the story in different channels? Ultimately, “Why do I care about this idea”? You need to answer the most important meta-question: “What is in it for the customer”?

Dynamics – What behaviour are you looking for from the consumer? What do you want the consumer to do with the idea? What are they going to put into it and what are they going to take out of it? Do you want them to have involvement for an immediate, once-off action, or over time?

Aesthetics – What is the direct emotional response that you want the consumer to have when they interact? This is more than the look and feel – it is the emotional feeling that you want to create from that individual.

PRIA_VividIdeas-171

  1. Reciprocity in value exchange

Shane Currey from Deloitte made an important and provocative point: brands should give in the expectation of not getting anything back.

However Hausmann’s Creative & Strategy Director Lex Deasley challenged this, commenting that lots of brands are creating content to access audiences. Yet many brands don’t understand one basic truth: they need to have a purpose and a role in the experience or relationship that is being created, or there is no legitimate value exchange.

To create a value exchange the brand needs to ask the question “does this make people’s lives better?”.

Public Relations role argued Deasley, is to help clients understand reciprocity in value exchange.

PRIA_VividIdeas-192

  1. Build platforms not campaigns

Glen Cassidy, Founding Partner at Cake Wines, shared the terrific case study of his business which, although only a few years old, has already carved out a unique and strong market position.

Cake Wines has achieved this by focusing on celebrating sub-culture and not through mass marketing. For example, they donate 10% of proceeds to independent radio stations around the country, and commission emerging artists to create their labels via their prestigious annual Archi-bottle art competition. See the case study here.

Cassidy demonstrated that consumers who have deep levels of involvement in the communications from the brand ultimately foster a deeper brand connection. He says: “We push our ideas and try to push our creative thinking as far as we can so that people have a deep experience with our ideas and campaigns – our internal mantra is ‘to focus on building platforms, not campaigns’ and connect people and bring them together in a meaningful way that extends beyond the budget or period of time.”

The key take out: We should be thinking more broadly about ideas that last longer.

The session was inspiring, providing food for thought and grist for the mental mill. The final word came from Adam Good: “It is the most exciting time to work in the communications industry”. Hear! Hear!

Thanks to the PRIA for organising the event and Amanda Little for hosting.

PRIA_VividIdeas-197

Winter is coming: How to prepare for a social media storm

The words ‘social media crisis’ or ‘online issues management’ can conjure images of pitchforks, burning torches and mobs of angry villagers. It may sound like a scene from Game of Thrones, but with a little stretch of the imagination, it’s not difficult to see how the thick storm of a social media crisis/issue could feel like a chapter straight from George R. R. Martin’s bloody saga.

While social media has given consumers a platform to keep brands and corporates honest, it has also given them weapons powerful enough to destroy the strongest of reputations.

The results can be ugly; a barrage of abusive comments splattered across Facebook and streams of tweets as thick as blood. Ask any marketer who has navigated through the sensitivities of Halal Certification uproar and it’s possible you’ll get a nod of agreement.

But like all conflicts, there are strategies you can effectively employ to prevent issues from turning into crises, at the same time as minimising long-term risk to reputation (and employee sanity!).

Here are four strategies to consider when dealing with issues via social media:

#1 Plan ahead

Ask yourself this question: If a major issue or crisis hit your company or brand tomorrow, would you be ready to handle the floods of fiery comments?

Are you and your team prepared with:

  • A tried and tested escalation plan?
  • Community compliance rules that are clear and accessible to your audience?
  • Company policies and procedures, and any legal or regulatory constraints?
  • Have you undertaken scenario planning and developed pre-approved Q&As?
  • Are you adequately resourced?

If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail (disclaimer: this is probably our favourite quote at FORWARD). If you haven’t ticked the items listed above, it may be time to refresh your internal social media processes and procedures.

#2 Don’t broadcast the message, individualise it instead

Picture this: Your community manager has reported an influx of complaints made via the Facebook page about one of your products. The comments are coming through thick and fast, and you’re given the option to post a generic holding statement via Facebook. Would you consider this the best course of action?

There is definitely a time and a place for a broadcasted message, but when it comes to dealing with disgruntled customers, a more individualised approach can be more effective.

UK telco O2 faced a similar problem when, during a massive network outage, O2’s Twitter account became inundated with tweets from angry customers. Instead of issuing a generic statement, the company made the decision to respond directly to disgruntled customers with authentic, personalised comments. Their individual-centric approach received mass support from O2 customers, turning a negative crisis into a positive brand experience.

#3 Be true and authentic

Now is not the time for corporate jargon, wishy-washy statements or half-hearted responses.

If you have a position or particular viewpoint on an issue – i.e. your company agrees with halal certification – it must be stated clearly and communicated authentically with the utmost respect to those with opposing opinions.

Vegemite demonstrated this well when recently confronted by the nasty war over Halal Certification – an issue that saw dairy manufactures, The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, pressured by consumers to drop certification resulting in the termination of a $50K Emirates contract.

Facing a consumer boycott if the Halal Certification wasn’t dropped (but let’s face it, who would ever really boycott this delicious spread) Vegemite responded with the following:

VEGEMITE is proud to be a spread for all Aussies. Thats why we’re Kosher & Halal certified, as well as suitable for vegetarians. While we enjoy a bit of banter as much as the next breakfast spread, anyone who insists on posting comments of hate, religious vilification or unwarranted grumpiness will be removed from our social media pages. So, no matter how you spread your Vegemite, remember – we’re just here to #SpredTheLove.

This respectful yet firm response ensured Australia’s most beloved breakfast food did not bow to pressures that were against their corporate philosophy.

#4 If you made a mistake – own it

As tempting as it is to justify your reasoning and prove your competency, it’s near impossible to stir up support and empathy if you cannot first take responsibility for your mistakes.

There are countless examples of brands that have owned their mistakes, and gone on to turn their situation into a positive.

One of the most memorable is from the Red Cross, when one of their social media employees accidentally posted this:

“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

The company’s social media director subsequently followed with a humorous tweet, acknowledging the mistake.

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys”

Although the mistake was one individual’s, Red Cross took responsibility as a company. Their quick thinking and instant acknowledgement of the tweet may have prevented more serious corporate embarrassment.

In summary, try not to justify or act defensively – even if there is a legitimate excuse for the mistake, your audience need you to own-up before they can see your side of the story.

Summary

It goes without saying that preparation, considered thought, and a fast response can be enough to quell the angry crowds when an issue arises via social. If you’re not already set-up to weather a social media storm, act now. Because if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that disaster can indeed strike when you least expect it.

4 minutes with: Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Brand ambassadors can be a powerful way to support PR and influence campaigns. They provide expert voices to tell brands’ stories and can help establish a brand’s credibility and authenticity with the media, bloggers and other influencers.

We love to showcase the people we work with and for this month’s ‘4 minutes with’ we chatted with a brand ambassador we work with: nutritionist, chef, co-star of Good Chef Bad Chef and Vitasoy ambassador, Zoe Bingley-Pullin.

What do you love about your job?

I think of what I do as an evolution. I wasn’t very good at school when I was younger – I’m dyslexic and this affected my confidence. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished, but I’d always loved food so I went and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London. I then combined this with a Diploma of Nutrition.

Nutrition and the socialisation of food is something I’ve found really freeing and fun. Being able to help people improve their knowledge and relationship with food makes me feel good and I love creating healthy dishes for others and myself and get such a kick out of seeing everyone enjoy it.

How has PR and media played a role in your career?

PR and media have been integral to my career and my work as a nutritionist, chef and brand ambassador. For me, food is all about enjoyment and I want to help people find joy in food through educating them on healthy choices, and PR and media have helped me get this message out there. Specifically I’ve worked closely with brands and PR teams through my role as a brand ambassador, where I raised awareness about nutritious eating.

What’s the most valuable career lesson you’ve learnt?

The most valuable career lesson I’ve learnt is to always say when you can’t do something. And if you realise you can’t do something, don’t pretend that you can. If you’re unable to deliver on something, it could have a negative impact on your business or brand.

I’ve also learnt the benefits of partnering with experts myself. There’s a wealth of talent out there than can help you, which has been especially important since becoming a mother. I’m trying to expand my business and I’m now working with a business coach to do this.

How do you choose which brands to work with?

I’m very strict about the brands I work with. I only work with brands that I love and that I’d give to my whole family. I also look to work with brands that are aligned with my views on nutrition and wholefoods, so that we can work together to build Australians’ knowledge on nutrition and healthy eating.

And a final question we’re all dying to know from a foodie – what’s been your most memorable meal?

One of my most memorable meals was in Rome with my husband, at a restaurant called Maccheroni. The dish was a simple pasta dish with olive oil, sea salt, chili and black truffle. I’m not talking about a little truffle either – there was so much truffle on there! I had it with a crisp green salad and a glass of rosé. It was a beautiful time and just showed that food doesn’t have to be overcomplicated.

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NOTE: FORWARD has been working with nutritionist, chef and co-star of Good Chef Bad Chef, Zoe Bingley-Pullin for the past year as an expert for Vitasoy.

4 minutes with Emma Koubayssi

Your first job in PR?

I first got a taste of PR and publicity when I was studying at Glasgow University. I was hosting a radio show on Subcity Radio for four years and in my final year I joined the Comms team to help promote and raise money for the station.

It was an incredible experience and I was responsible for hosting and promoting three key events throughout the year. They were all music and arts focused and I was pursuing my passion.

It was a huge team effort and I did everything from helping to secure the artists and venue but ultimately promote the gigs and boost tickets sales. One of my proudest moments was our flagship event at The Arches – where we had 6- 7 acts and 800+ people through the door, a record in the history of the station.

It was tough juggling the role with final year dissertation, exams and general uni stresses but I loved it. You could say I was hooked!

After that I went on to work in one of Scotland’s busiest press offices. In Scotland they are passionate about two things – politics and football. And usually football comes first. So I cut my teeth at one of Glasgow’s famous football clubs – Glasgow Rangers, also known as one half of the Old Firm.

It was an eye opener to say the least. I didn’t know anything about football before started but I learnt a few things:

  1. To survive you need to adapt and you need to learn quick
  2. High profile often means high adrenaline and severe scrutiny from the media, your fans and your enemies
  3. Building relationships really is the crux of what we do

What is it you enjoy about working in this industry?

I guess that it is constantly changing and we are always learning.

No two days are the same and I like the variety of that. I also like that we can influence decisions and behaviours.

I learnt a huge amount about behavioural economics when I worked at London’s Kindred Agency and how it could drive social action and change. It really is quite fascinating.

From all of the marketing disciplines I also find that PR, influencer and content marketing is the most agile and frankly the most interesting. It’s not for everyone but I truly believe story telling is in our DNA. And I like telling stories and sharing useful, helpful content with people – in my personal life and also my professional.

We are often connectors. We like to join the dots, understand the whys and wherefores and then make things happen.   I often think I was born to communicate and bring ideas to life.

I probably had two career paths either PR or psychology and they are fairly similar when you think about it.

Best campaign to date?

It has to be the first project I ever worked on for the Scottish Government called Determined to Broadcast. We single handily converted a double decker bus into a radio studio, partnered with commercial stations to make it happen and secured local radio DJs and musicians as ambassadors.

The purpose of the project was to inspire and educate young people, using music and radio production to help develop their softer skills such as team working, problem solving and communication.

I was very junior but was the only team member in the country. My directors were working remotely so by default I got a huge amount of responsibility and it was the steepest learning curve of my life.

I got to manage the design & build and was the key point of contact for the school liaison, workshop training and facilitation, ambassador team and press and publicity. We managed a very high profile Ministerial launch with a live truck broadcast, it was fantastic.

That year I probably had the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had in my life but it was well worth it. I also won my first industry award and thought this is something I could get used to.

Why FORWARD?

FORWARD is a boutique agency but with big clients and big thinking. I enjoy working in a small team and for an independent company that values excellent work, creative minds, responsiveness and the people who make FORWARD.

The team is nimble and bold. We are on the front foot and able to offer clients something different to many agencies in the market – influencer and content marketing which is underpinned by strategic communications.

One last thing…

There are three kinds of people in the world – people people, places people and things people. Once you figure out which one you are it will all fall into place. I promise.

Emma is an Account Director at FORWARD

The 15 most powerful verbs for 2015

Everyone loves a list. I do too. So I thought I would share my new years list. Ta dah! But rather than technology trends or social media predictions, here are my 15 top verb predictions for 2015. Perhaps you could call these my new years verb resolutions:

1. Reflect

Take stock. Step back. Look at where you are now. What is really going on? What are your assets? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What’s in your blind spot? What do you need to work on? Be honest. Become more self-aware. Take some time to reflect everyday. What went well, what did you learn, what will you do differently tomorrow?

2. Plan

How will you know this year has been a success? Failing to plan is planning to fail. Now is the time to set some goals. Make 2015 the year to follow your plan, report against your KPIs, track how you are progressing and importantly be agile enough to re-set, re-frame or re-boot if required.

3. Align

Get everyone working on your projects turning and facing the same direction and reading from the same playbook. Nothing will kill a project faster than confusion and obfuscation. Align early and realign mid-project if needed.

4. Create

Whatever your category or brand, create a content SweetSpot: be informative, helpful or entertaining. Just don’t be bland. From there think creatively about how you can share the most relevant content with your audiences and influencers.

5. Collaborate

Whether it be internally or externally; with partners, customers or consumers; make 2015 a year of new and interesting collaborations and partnerships. Whether it is creating a co-branded experience, a media partnership or just a creative brainstorm with a client; collaboration multiplies your efforts, creates synergy and helps you reach a bigger audience.

6. Reciprocate

Pay it forward. Pay it back. Be generous. There is no better way to build relationships than giving freely of your time, energy, and insight (or if you are a brand, giving something for nothing). If you want someone to do something for you, think first what you can do for them? And if they did something for you how can you return the favour. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

7. Share

Be open with your communication, be generous with your time, and definitely give stuff you no longer need away. We all have enough, so how could you help someone who doesn’t? And share more on Social Media, obviously!

8. Think

Before you say, write or send anything. Think about your audience and how they will receive the message. It is always good to have a filter between your brain and your mouth. One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” Let’s add “Think first, speak second”.

9. Check

Check your spelling. Check your punctuation. Check your facts. Enough said. And don’t rely on auto-spell check on Word. Get someone to peer-review for you, especially if this is not your strong suit. Always triple check the spelling of a hashtag (think Sephora).

10. Publish

This is the year we are all going to become publishers. Especially if you want to be an authority on a topic or a go to brand that people come to for help and advice. Re-purpose your content. Write once and publish many times.

11. Update

Resolve to keep your profile up to date. Whether it is your personal profile, your corporate profile or brand profile. You can’t set and forget. It should be something that you regularly revisit – and update often.

12. Be curious

(OK technically not a verb, but whatever). Watch. Listen. Look up. Look out. Ask questions. Investigate. It is only by reaching outside ourselves that we get fresh insights into the world around us. Make time to read the paper, follow some bloggers, and resolve to read a book a month. Go and see an indie film. Watch SBS. Get out of your bubble. Go for a walk.

13. Outreach

No one is an island. To be successful, you have to reach out to others. We do this all the time in PR, but it is something that everyone should do. Who are your clients, your stakeholders, your influencers, and your consumers? Reach out to them. Have conversations. Never eat lunch alone.

14. Stretch

Stretch yourself. You can do more than you think you can. We all can. So push yourself a little. Go on. (oh and perhaps literally stretch your body, as well – this is the year to get flexible, people!)

15. Celebrate

Go back to your goals and KPIs. Celebrate every major (and minor) win. How will you reward yourself? How will you reward your team? Make sure you take some time out regularly and acknowledge what you have achieved. Have fun.

So there you have it the 15 most powerful verbs for 2015. For your personal life or your professional life. Do a little bit more of each of these in 2015, and you will have a brilliant year. I promise.

 

5 Reasons why bloggers add brand value

Blogging has become big business. Not only do agencies and brands liaise with established bloggers to create and amplify campaigns, but also the industry of brand publishing platforms and business blogs are increasing in value.

Major bloggers are now commonly represented by specialist agents and draw big crowds and dollars, successfully leveraging their audience share for conversion into social and economic capital. Leandra Medine’s curated blog on outrageous fashion trends adored by women and despised by men, Man Repeller, is estimated to be worth $8.1 million, with more than 1.5 million unique page views a month. Similarly, Australian blogs such as Gary Pepper Girl, Substance Blog and Fat Mum Slim all have powerhouse followings.

‘Ordinary’ individuals are well and truly cementing their place as authoritative voices in the competitive fashion, beauty, health and lifestyle industries, but why should businesses reach out to bloggers to engage with their brands?

1. Your audience is hanging out there

There are approximately 214 million blogs on Tumblr alone. The general popularity of blogging can be traced back to the ease and low cost associated to connect with like-minded individuals, share personal views and spark conversation. Humans are social beings, blogging and social media just expands the friendship circle.

2. Personality counts

Blogging is such a powerful tool for brands as the flexible linking of text, pictures and video content assists in engaging audiences with a powerful brand message, story or personality. We recently introduced Rentokil to a new audience and made the issue of pest control approachable with a sponsored post and giveaway on Retro Mummy.

3. Click this way

Blogs, and online in general, provide an important digital point-of-sale for customers that can drive traffic or influence purchase decisions. Today it is fair game to spot something on a blog, check Instagram and link to an online store to check price and availability all before buying. Bloggers are now realising the power of their influence and receiving up to $200,000 commission a year on sales driven by their sites, through platforms such as RewardStyle.

4. Community spirit

People look to blogs to document life experiences, express emotion, involve in community forums and present opinions or ideas in writing (hence the need for effective community management – the good, the bad, the ugly). Working with blogs, brands have an opportunity to speak with audiences through a trusted influencer in a familiar online community space. Helpfully, bloggers are your audience, “they are as much consumers as they are media to be consumed”, so they know how to tap into their audience (and yours).

5. Be like the cool kids

Successful bloggers engage with relevant brands in an exchange of their social following and cultural influence. The illusive idea of ‘coolness’ is forever being chased by marketers to add brand value, but it isn’t so easily attained. Coolness is most often attributed to cultural objects (people, brands, products, trends, etc.) inferred to be autonomous. AKA: zero cares given.

Bloggers are considered an independent and trendy alternative to the mainstream media. This concept is particularly prominent in the fashion blogging industry – there is a reason girls with messy hair and a nonchalant attitude have the biggest online followings.

To wrap things up, here are two of my favourite major blogger x brand collabs:

Oraclefox x Billabong
Stab Mag x Corona Extra

10 things I learnt in 2014

It’s the end of the year. It seems like yesterday I was drafting New Year’s resolutions, writing top trends for 2014, and gearing us all up to rocket into orbit. It has been a big year, an exciting year and year of terrific expansion. With just one day left to go, I thought I would spend some time and reflect on what I have learnt this year.

In truth, some of these are things that I had forgotten and simply remembered or been re-shown, but there were also some big new lessons that really have helped me and F4 grow and mature.

1. There are surprises around every corner

Whatever you think is going to happen may not and you probably can’t even imagine what will. Definitely have a plan, but be aware that new things will always get thrown into the mix. Be nimble, flexible and open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Adapt. Pivot. Embrace change.

2. Hope is not a strategy

If you want something to happen, go make it happen. Sitting and hoping for the phone to ring, for the next big thing to happen, or for an awesome new team member to find you isn’t really a great strategy – go out there and make it happen, find them yourself. Use your networks. Fortune favours the bold, and all that!

3. Persistence pays off

Hard work. Sweat capital. Never say die. Persistence is one of our values for a reason. I’ve discovered that “no” can also mean “not now”. For me persistence is about respect, consistency, maintaining contact. To get results, sometimes you need to just peddle a bit harder…but boy it pays off when you do.

4. Be brave

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop once said to me “Fergus, be courageous: it is one of the few places left uncrowded”. I really should have this as a tattoo, and maybe one day I will. We are just about to turn three. Without the courage to take that first step, and the second, and the third and every other step after that we wouldn’t be where we are now. Importantly, don’t worry so much what other people think.

5. People make the business

The outcomes we achieve are all because of people, not technology. We have amazing technology but without an amazing team we’d be nowhere. At the end of the day we are in a people business and always will be.

6. Slow down. Take time to look up and out

It is really important to step back and smell the roses and see the big picture. We get so caught up in the detail sometimes we forget to see what is really going on. Getting inspired and looking outside is like oxygen for us. We need it to survive.

7. Don’t panic

When something goes wrong, and it will; stop, breathe, get the facts, pause, regroup, align and take action. The most important thing is not to freeze. In most cases it is not as bad as you think. Don’t catastrophise.

8. Learn from your mistakes

This follows on from 7. When things do turn out to smell a bit on the whiffy side we always try and understand what we could have done differently instead of pushing it under the carpet. Best practice isn’t something that just happens – it happens because you never stop learning, and passing on the lessons to those around you.

9. Celebrate success and be grateful

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every quarter. We are not machines. Success can be its own reward, but so can celebrating regularly. Wasting time together, blowing off steam, and showing pride in what we do energises everyone on the team to keep pushing, keep driving, keep being creative and keep on winning.

10. Pay it forward

There were and are an abundance of people helping us be successful and I really like helping others do the same. I have started mentoring a start up, and have spent some time with incubators. I get a lot out of this, too, and often come away with new ideas for F4 and how we can improve. I don’t ever want to lose the start up passion, energy and exuberance – it is actually a lot of fun.

I hope these few insights may inspire you and your teams into the New Year. So, from the team at F4 and myself, wishing you prosperity, fulfillment and job satisfaction in 2015.

Forward Thinking